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Book About Income Taxes
Old 01-08-2008, 11:14 AM   #1
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Book About Income Taxes

Since I'll be doing my own income tax returns from now on, I'd like to become somewhat of an expert.

I realize this is probably a stupid question, but is there a book that talks about how to do your taxes, but not in a line-by-line way? For example, I want a book that will talk about how to handle situations in which the tax code is ambiguous. Something that will convey the general understanding and background knowledge that someone who has done returns for years would have. Perhaps something that explains the historical basis for deductions, etc.

Thanks,
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Old 01-08-2008, 11:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Since I'll be doing my own income tax returns from now on, I'd like to become somewhat of an expert.

I realize this is probably a stupid question, but is there a book that talks about how to do your taxes, but not in a line-by-line way? For example, I want a book that will talk about how to handle situations in which the tax code is ambiguous. Something that will convey the general understanding and background knowledge that someone who has done returns for years would have. Perhaps something that explains the historical basis for deductions, etc.

Thanks,
About 10-12 years ago I attended a seminar concerning preparing the dreaded schedule C. The speaker was an enrolled agent (along with numerous other titles) of mega years experience. He recommended "What the IRS Doesn't want you to Know"--Martin Kaplan. It has been a useful tool and you can browse it on Amazon. As I'm not sure what you are up to but you may benefit from the book.
BTW, the private Q&A I had with this guy probably amounted to the best/most valuable 10 minutes of my business life I'd share, but I'm not sure the info provided is applicable today.
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:31 PM   #3
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Thanks, that looks like fun. Just ordered it from PaperBackSwap : Your source for swapping books online!.
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:54 PM   #4
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My Dad used to buy J. K. Lasser's 'Your income tax YYYY' every other year or so.
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Old 01-08-2008, 02:03 PM   #5
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My Dad used to buy J. K. Lasser's 'Your income tax YYYY' every other year or so.
Ditto. Before TurboTax got their act together (as much as they ever will) I used J.K. Lasser's every year.

Good explanations & advice on rentals and "C" & "S" corps.
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Old 01-08-2008, 02:36 PM   #6
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My Dad used to buy J. K. Lasser's 'Your income tax YYYY' every other year or so.
Just a friendly warning about those type of books...do not rely on them completely. They are OK as a starting point to help you locate general answers, but don't count on them as a definitive source. Quotes from these books will not hold up in tax court unless you can back them up with the IRC, regs, etc.

I remember finding a mistake in that book about 12 years ago when looking something up. I emailed the publisher for clarification and they told me it was a "technical misprint" that would be corrected in future editions. If I remember correctly, I think the book said there was a cap on "FICA" wages when it should have said "Social Security" wages.
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Old 01-08-2008, 03:31 PM   #7
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Since I'll be doing my own income tax returns from now on, I'd like to become somewhat of an expert.

<snip>

Thanks,

A tax expert? Sick!

-CC
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:03 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Since I'll be doing my own income tax returns from now on, I'd like to become somewhat of an expert.

I realize this is probably a stupid question, but is there a book that talks about how to do your taxes, but not in a line-by-line way? For example, I want a book that will talk about how to handle situations in which the tax code is ambiguous. Something that will convey the general understanding and background knowledge that someone who has done returns for years would have. Perhaps something that explains the historical basis for deductions, etc.

Thanks,
Try IRS Pub 17, basic stuff but it does give some examples.
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:13 AM   #9
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Try IRS Pub 17, basic stuff but it does give some examples.
Yep, and you can't beat the price.
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:18 AM   #10
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IRS Pub 17 - 298 electronic pages, 2.37 MB (It's a .pdf)

-CC
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:33 AM   #11
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Here's how Pub 17 or the Lasser books start out:
Who must file. Generally, the amount of in-
come you can receive before you must file a
return has been increased. See Table 1-1, Table
1-2, and Table 1-3 for the specific amounts.

Here's how the book that I'm looking for would start out:
An Overview of Income Tax

The U.S. Government uses income tax to collect revenue from individual taxpayers. The tax that you pay is based on the total amount of money you took in during the year, either through working or through investments. As a means of making your tax more reasonable, or as a means of influencing your behavior, you are allowed to make certain adjustments to your income.

For example, if your business made $200,000, but your expenses were $195,000 it wouldn't be reasonable that you pay tax on the full $200,000, so you are allowed to deduct your expenses.

As another example, to influence you to purchase an energy-efficient car, the IRS may allow you to deduct part of the cost... blah blah blah
And it would have a section like this:
How to Deal with Ambiguities

You may expect that filling out a tax return involves simply entering numbers into the different fields on the return. Turns out that there's a lot more interpretation and decision making involved. When the same tax information was provided to 50 CPAs in Washington, DC, no two of them came out with the same final figure.

Here are some general guidelines as to how to handle situations in which the instructions aren't clear, or the proper procedure isn't obvious. blah blah
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:44 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Here's how Pub 17 or the Lasser books start out:
Who must file. Generally, the amount of in-
come you can receive before you must file a
return has been increased. See Table 1-1, Table
1-2, and Table 1-3 for the specific amounts.

Here's how the book that I'm looking for would start out:
An Overview of Income Tax

The U.S. Government uses income tax to collect revenue from individual taxpayers. The tax that you pay is based on the total amount of money you took in during the year, either through working or through investments. As a means of making your tax more reasonable, or as a means of influencing your behavior, you are allowed to make certain adjustments to your income.

For example, if your business made $200,000, but your expenses were $195,000 it wouldn't be reasonable that you pay tax on the full $200,000, so you are allowed to deduct your expenses.

As another example, to influence you to purchase an energy-efficient car, the IRS may allow you to deduct part of the cost... blah blah blah
And it would have a section like this:
How to Deal with Ambiguities

You may expect that filling out a tax return involves simply entering numbers into the different fields on the return. Turns out that there's a lot more interpretation and decision making involved. When the same tax information was provided to 50 CPAs in Washington, DC, no two of them came out with the same final figure.

Here are some general guidelines as to how to handle situations in which the instructions aren't clear, or the proper procedure isn't obvious. blah blah
Al, sounds like you've gonna have to write this one yourself. But hey, looks like you've already got a good start on a new "retirement business" (I know, oxymoron...).

What would you call your book? How about, "Al and the Beaver Chop Your Taxes"?
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Old 01-09-2008, 05:05 PM   #13
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I third the recommendation for J.K.Lasser's Your Income tax (current year edition). I used to run a part-time tax practice, and I always bought this, and quite often referred to it.

Another book you might find helpful is How to Pay Zero Taxes 2008 (It is another classic updated and issued every tax year).

How to Pay Zero Taxes, 2008
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Old 01-10-2008, 07:03 AM   #14
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A tax expert? Sick!

-CC

Yeah, if THATs all he can think of to do with his ER free time, I say its back to the cubicle farm for him!
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:33 PM   #15
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Al, I'd love to buy your book... Perhaps "taxes for dummies" is more what you are looking for. I think the dummies books are a fun read.

I like Nord use to buy Lasser's before relying on TurboTax to get everything right.
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Old 01-14-2008, 05:02 PM   #16
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You could buy the textbook used for my accounting class this semester.

Half.com / Books / Prentice Hall's Federal Taxation 2008: Comprehensive
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:13 PM   #17
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Since I'll be doing my own income tax returns from now on, I'd like to become somewhat of an expert.
Al, you could take the "free" tax course offered by the Tax preparers like H&R Block and Liberty Tax. If after your done they say they want to hire you just say maybe next year . The course I took was intense and very good. They usually offer them several months prior to the tax season. You may have to pay for the course book.
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:09 AM   #18
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That's a neat idea, but my taxes are so simple, that there would probably be too much wasted time.
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